The art of watering

Round & About

gardening school

I have decided that watering is a very specialised subject and I feel I could run a 10-week course on the subject!

The challenges for getting water to the roots of plants this year and last is off the scale. I remember saying how important it was to harvest the rainwater as it is so precious and would love to know how many of you did that?

Soil improvement

Anyone who knows me knows that I champion soil improvement and liken it to the gut biome! My go to compost to improve fertility and water retention is wool and bracken compost. I have covered my garden in it this year and those of many clients. We are reaping the benefits.

Harvesting the rain

We complain about it in the winter but in the last two summers have prayed it will fall out of the sky! I have been like a mad woman filling up water bottles by the thousand and installing water butts everywhere as well as leaving out trugs and trays to put in thirsty plants. I am now watering my plants with harvested rainwater as another hosepipe ban looms!

Watering the garden

New planting will need watering. If you have improved the soil or mulched this will be possible. If it’s just dusty dry soil it will just run off. Mulch now to absorb the water you put on. Spray to wet the mulch and then allow as much water into the soil as you can. If you are not sure just scrape the surface or dig down with a trowel to see if it’s wet. Use spiked bottles or tubes to get the water to the roots, do not just spray the plants.

Watering the lawn

Do not waste water doing this! A sign of a good gardener is a ‘dead’ lawn in the summer. It will revitalise as soon as the rain comes, it’s not dead it’s summer dormant.


Someone once said to me ‘It doesn’t rain in pots’ so make sure you still water. If it’s hot and sunny you will need to water more than when it is cool and cloudy. Do the plants need it? Are they wilting because they are dry, waterlogged or damaged by pests? Is the pot heavy or light? Is it normal multi purpose compost or wool compost? Is it a desert plant or a tropical rainforest plant?

If in doubt stick your finger into the soil!

CGS Courses

Please ask for details as I am now meeting potential students for Autumn and Spring Courses as well as bespoke workshops. I can also come and teach you in your own garden and am happy to chat over a coffee at Ashdene. Consultancy gift vouchers available too.

Website: Cathie’s Gardening School.
Email: [email protected]

Cyclamen confusion

Round & About

gardening school

Cathie Welch explains how to distinguish between the types of Cyclamens available

It’s that time of year again when the garden centres are bombarding us with a beautiful array of houseplants for the festive season. Every year it’s the same and I find myself having to clarify to students and clients how to distinguish between the types of Cyclamens available, so here goes…

Cyclamen hederifolium

These little beauties are 100% hardy and tolerate our climate outside. They’re fabulous for colonising shady areas particularly under trees. They grow from corms and ants help to disperse the seeds. Coming in various shades of pink and white and the leaves vary their variegation between plants. This species is fairly vigorous if it likes its location and flowers in late Summer and Autumn. Ivy is Hedera and these Cyclamen have leaves like ivy forming a beautiful green carpet once the flowers have finished.

Cyclamen coum

These are another species of hardy Cyclamen although a little less vigorous than hederifolium. They flower in the Spring followed by little round leaves, also varying slightly between plants. Shades of pink and white too and similar in their cultivation requirements. Grow the two species in separate swathes or you’ll find that the C. hederifoium takes over. You can see both types growing successfully in many public gardens.

Cyclamen persicum

These are the ones that are in the houseplant section. They can be grown outside briefly but aren’t frost hardy and don’t like our wet winters. Very rarely will they survive outside. I’m tempted by the gorgeous array of colours on offer but that can only be grown in cool conditions inside. A porch or protected area outside is perfect but water carefully!

It’s in the name!

I hope this helps to unravel the confusion. The clue is in the name. They are all in the Cyclamen genus, but the species differ.

Points of sale aren’t always specific but if you’re buying something from a greenhouse or polytunnel at this time of year, check before you plant it in the garden. The hardy Cyclamen will be outside with the perennials whatever the weather. They’re all gorgeous but like I say to my students, you need to do your homework! Happy shopping!

Cathie’s Gardening School Services

Pruning is the skill I am asked most about so I will be running pruning courses and master classes throughout the Summer and Autumn next year. Please come and meet me at Ashdene to discuss your gardening requirements and join in the learning, it’s addictive!



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